This was a special moment for Mike Moreno, and one look at his face immediately after the final point hit the floor was indicative of just how much passion he has for volleyball.
Moreno, top-seeded Massapequa’s senior setter, was brushing away tears as he expressed the utter satisfaction of he and his Chiefs teammates’ miraculous comeback in their 21-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-16, 17-15 win over No. 2 Long Beach in the Nassau Class A final Wednesday night at SUNY-Old Westbury.
Massapequa plays Eastport-South Manor in the Long Island Division I championship at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday at LIU Post.
“There’s a lot of emotion going on,” Moreno said. “I’m just overjoyed. This is the best day of my life.”
Moreno was all over the court, saving points and setting his teammates up for success with 44 assists. Down 2-0, it was the way he stabilized the offense that kept the Chiefs going.
Of course, it helped to have Pat Wing, a junior middle who had 12 blocks and 16 kills.
“This was our goal all year, and we couldn’t have asked for a better competitor,” Wing said.
Long Beach took an emphatic 2-0 lead with major contributions from Sammy Gibson, Chris Scandole, Ben Naouai and Jared Weissberg. They didn’t fade much during Massapequa’s comeback, but the combined presence of Wing and his teammates on the block made hitting difficult for the Marines (16-2).
Wing said he knew a comeback was possible in the middle of the third set. Then, when the Chiefs took a blistering 8-0 lead in the fourth set, the momentum seemed to shift entirely.
“That put us over the edge,” Wing said.
Even while trailing 10-5 in the fifth set, which is played to 15 in boys volleyball, the Chiefs continued on the same course that had brought them to the do-or-die situation.
Everyone contributed in the deciding set. Timmy Drake (16 kills) and John Ronan (nine) were offensive powers, and libero Steven Schulte saved point after point. Peter Toutoulis and Domenick Anderson played integral supporting roles.
Said Wing: “That was probably one of the best matches I’ve ever played in my entire life.”